Dry lands occupy 41,3 % of all the lands of the Earth. It means that almost a half of the lands that the mankind can use can turn into deserts under certain conditions and it happens slowly but inevitably.

56% of the dry lands are used as pastures, 30 % are agricultural lands and only 2% are occupied by the settlements. The rest of the dry lands are the deserts – hyperarid regions (the Atacama, the Namib, the Gobi and the part of Mongolia).

46% of carbon stocks are located in the dry lands

Desertification is the process of transferring once fertile lands located in the dry lands into the desert.

Why is it happening?

There is number of reasons for the desertification. They can be divided into natural and man-made. Very often human intervention catalyze the natural processes for this or that location.

The natural causes of desertification

The natural phenomena and cataclysms below are the most frequent causes of desertification:

1. Limited precipitation.

2. Slides and erosion caused by devastation of the plant cover as a result of the strong winds and rains.

3. Salinization of the land as a result of the floods on the seaside territories.  

The man’s role in desertification

People play a great role in desertification.

Unreasonable use of the lands for pastures, the overuse of the fertilizers and pesticides for the lands cover, incorrectly designed irrigation systems lead to inevitable processes resulting in desertification. Every such mistake in economic activity causes the certain consequences. 

The plants cultivated in the dry lands make 30% of all cultivated plants on the Earth

Despite the variety of the natural factors facilitating the desertification of the dry lands, the main reason of that still remains the ecological crisis – the result of the incorrect use of the natural resources in every single region.

There is a point of view that all the deserts in the Middle East appeared as a result of the human activities. The depletion of these territories (namely – the Sahara and the Arabia) as a result of the overpasturing lead the enterprising citizens to found the cities on the swamping banks of the Tiger, the Euphrates and the Nile as well as to the development of the  industry and social relations.

The consequences of desertification

Decreasing the fertility of the land the desertification causes not only the depletion of the arable lands but also the violation of the certain region ecosystem. The reduce of the plant cover causes the loss of the various kinds of fauna representatives which in its turn causes the meaningful influence on the habitat of these lands and it results in even more serious mistakes and violation in natural resources use. Thus desertification often becomes both the cause and the result of the poverty and even hunger among the population of the certain regions. The lower is the social and economical level of the population of the country – the higher is the risk of natural resources overuse and as a result the forcing of the desertification process. And on the contrary – the barren lands  are always accompanied by hunger and poverty.

The ecological consequences of desertification

The most evident results of desertification are the following changes in the region ecosystem:

  •  The climate change on the territory, in particular the humidity.
  •  The violation of the groundwater feeding.
  •  Land drying and salinization.
  •  Geomorphological processes activation – deflation, erosion and so on.
  •  Plant cover serious reduction.
  •  Animal population decrease.

The dry lands occupy 44 % of all the cultivated territories – The fact

The economical consequences of desertification

The natural resources depletion always causes the economical consequences. It is not the simple coincidence that most of the dry lands belong to the developing countries. 

The most notable results of desertification:

  •  The crisis in agriculture – the significant segment of the economics of the country.
  •  The fresh water shortage. Providing the fresh water to the local people is the extra expense article.
  •  Artificial water ponds silting results in power supply and irrigation problems. 

The fight against desertification: is it possible to stop it?

The lands subjected to desertification make almost the quarter of the Earth. If the speed of fertile lands transfer to the uninhabitable territories doesn’t slow down soon, the total area of such territories in Russia will become 1 mln hectares in the next 15-20 years. Such prospective prompts to take urgent measures in the fight against the desertification process.

The international year of fight against desertification

As desertification is the global ecological problem many international organizations focus their work on it. In particular, the Desertification International Convention of the United Nations Organization came into force December 26, 1996. 

Most of the lands with dry climate are located in Russia, Kazakhstan, Australia, China and the USA

In 2006 the UNO General Assembly applied to the international organizations and the heads of the participating countries to support the events fighting the desertification in the developing countries. That year came into history as the International year of the deserts and desertification.

The UNO decade devoted to the deserts and the fight against the desertification

The year of deserts and desertification became the first step in the international fight for the dry lands. The period from the middle of 2010 winter to December 2020 was declared the Decade devoted to the deserts and fights against the desertification. The main goal of this tremendous event has become the to grow the awareness of the population of the deserted lands about the causes of this process as well as the help in overcoming the current situation   

The local fight with desertification

The international scale of the problem doesn’t mean there are no local measures to prevent it.

The countries 99 % of which consist of the deserted lands are: Iraq, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Botswana, Burkina Faso

On the contrary, to save the natural resources is the primary goal of the population living in this area. In particular, the local authorities can take the following effective measures:

  • modify the modals of the lands use with regards to the specification of the territories and factors that can cause the degradation;
  •  take legislative measures to save the special ecological districts;
  •  assist in alternative energy sources use to decrease pressure on the wood resources;
  •  control the reasonable use of the natural resources, especially pastures and cultivated lands.

What any of you can do?

The fight against the desertification presupposes not only the dry lands recovery but also the prevention of this process development on the other territories.

2 billion people live in the dry lands in the world

The most simple steps for that are available for everybody:

  1.  Develop the plant cover – the planting events in the cities and villages are more valuable than it may seem. Nobody can stop you from planting several trees with you family.
  2.  Stop using wood as the fuel substituting it to the other kinds of fuel and using modified equipment.
  3.  Pastures reasonable use.
  4.  Saving water resources: simple water saving in every home may play important role in preventing the land degradation in the region.

Every third man lives on the land that may turn into the desert

There is no doubt that the reasonable use of the natural resources depends on the volumes of use. For example, the influence of the average family on the land condition cannot be compared to the farmers and enterprises activities influence. However the fight against desertification cannot be selective. This is the task of international range and every man on the planet meets it.